Burning Spear

20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Burning Spear

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While many of these tracks are, in fact, Burning Spear's best, this 12-cut selection of his Island/Mango years only scratches the surface of Winston Rodney's voluminous catalog. Although 1996's Chant Down Babylon: The Island Anthology double set might be too much for the casual listener, nearly all these tunes are also available on Hip-O's single Ultimate Collection. Still, this disc's budget price is a consideration, since ten of its dozen songs represent Spear's classic years from 1975-1980. Additionally, the 12" versions of "Social Living" and an extended mix of "The Invasion/Black Wa-Da-Da" infuse depth to the listing, making this slightly more than just an abbreviated version of Chant Down Babylon. There's no denying the power of these songs, which, apart from Bob Marley's, are the most political and riveting statements to emerge from this period in reggae. The sound is excellent, both dry and heavy, to quote Spear's own song title. If you're just looking to experience the music that made Winston Rodney a legend, this is a practical place to start. It's likely that after getting a taste of the man's hypnotic, horn-accentuated approach, you'll want to explore his history more thoroughly.

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